Dentists work with bloodborne pathogens daily and are taking extra precautions on top of their existing practices to keep patients safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. As more dentists begin to offer elective procedures for patients, these precautions will continue to remain in place to protect both you as a patient and your dentist and their staff. So how are dentists ensuring safe environments during COVID?
Screening Patients for Symptoms
Your dental office will be screening all patients for symptoms of COVID, both when making your appointment and when you arrive at the practice. If you’re displaying any potential symptoms of the virus, your dentist office will politely ask you to reschedule your appointment.
Visitors are also generally not allowed in with you to your appointment to minimize risk. Should you be having a procedure where you need support or someone to drive you home, you can discuss with your dentist if your visitor is allowed to wait for you in the office.
Patients must wear face masks while in the office until directed by staff to remove their face mask for their procedure. Your dentist and their staff will also be monitoring and screening themselves for potential symptoms of the virus .
Using Personal Protective Equipment
Of course, your dentist and their team will be using personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times while in the office. You can expect that your dentist and their staff will be wearing face masks at all times, and during your procedure, your dentist and dental hygienist will be wearing face masks in addition to a full face shield to prevent transmission of droplets . Your dentist and their team will also be wearing protective clothing such as gowns and gloves during your dental procedure.
Engaging in Best Practices for Safety
In addition to their regular practices for minimizing risk of transmission and keeping both staff and patients safe (such as hand washing), your dental practice will also likely engage in the following practices to enhance your safety even more:
- Encouraging social distancing whenever possible
- Properly ventilating the office space
- Staggering appointments to reduce the number of patients in the office at one time
- Closing the waiting room and asking people to wait outside or in their car
- Extending hours to reduce the number of patients in the office and to make time to
clean and disinfect throughout the day
- Cleaning and sanitizing office spaces regularly
Offering Virtual Consultations
Many dentists are also offering virtual consultations in an effort to minimize the number of patients that need to come into the office. For example, if you’d like to have a consultation for restorative or cosmetic dentistry, your dentist may offer a virtual consultation to reduce risk and minimize the number of times you need to come into the office .
Have Questions? Ask Your Dentist!
If you have any questions about what your dentist is doing specifically to help prevent transmission of the virus and keep patients safe, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask. Remember, putting off your regular oral care increases your risk of both tooth decay and gum disease, so don’t miss your appointment with your dentist for your checkup and cleaning!